OTEC puts up obstacles to running for its board

I recently listened to a program host ridiculing controlled elections in the old Soviet Union by saying they had to throw a party and serve food at the polling stations to get anyone to vote. As an observer of OTEC’s election process over the years, I must say that the charade is similar, except that OTEC also bribes members to vote with a $500 prize drawing. The bribes are understandable, given the usual slate of incumbents and the obstacles OTEC has erected to keep candidates from running.

OTEC’s 4-month election period begins quietly with the appointment of a secretive, elite “nominating committee,” whose task is to determine if you are “qualified” to run. They could actively reach out to members to find potential candidates, but little if any effort is expended for that. Sometimes a director retires early so that an insider can be appointed, giving them incumbency status and a leg up in the next election. The result is that often the only choices on the ballot are incumbents, but in one case where another well-qualified candidate was in the race, important experience was left out of his Ruralite profile.

The bylaws allow additional nominations not less than 60 days prior to the annual meeting if a member can get over the next hurdle which is to collect 50 member signatures by petition before the end of the time period. Several years back, there was a candidate who was told that nominations were closed even though the nomination period was not over. He then had to go out and find 50 members to sign a nominating petition to get on the ballot.

This year, if you were unhappy with the incumbent candidates finally announced by OTEC in the March Ruralite, you might have wanted to try and get 50 signatures to get on the ballot. Too bad — you would have been out of luck, because the signed petitions had to be submitted by Feb. 20, several days before the candidates were even announced in Ruralite, and write-ins and nominations from the floor are not allowed. Cooperative democracy in action!

Christopher Christie

Baker City